Analyze the effects the independence of the Thirteen Colonies had on the religious groups founded in North America. Specifically, include how the Baptist denomination could have only thrived in the...

Analyze the effects the independence of the Thirteen Colonies had on the religious groups founded in North America. Specifically, include how the Baptist denomination could have only thrived in the United States.

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Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The American Revolution led to certain denominational schisms within the Christian population of the North American Colonies. For example, the Anglican Church experienced a split which later led to the development of the Quaker movement (also called the Religious Society of Friends). The reason for the schism was that the Anglican Church, being historically tied to the Church of England, supported the British Crown and was thus not supportive of the colonists' insurrection. Indeed, many leaders within the Anglican Church took up arms against fellow colonists in an attempt to preserve the Crown's authority. The pacifist schism of the Anglican Church chose not to take up arms. This difference of opinion on religion, politics, warfare, and the use of force eventually led to the splintering off of numerous denominations in America. 

This turbulent background is the context in which the Baptist movement in America developed. There are three main reasons why the Baptist movement could have only been successful in an independent America and couldn't have thrived under British authority. First, the Baptist Church supported a separation of church and state. This secular political outlook was at odds with the British religious doctrine of unity between God and the Crown. Second, the Baptist denomination was unique for its practice of baptizing adults. Most denominations at the time baptized infants. However, for baptists, baptism represented a conscious, dedicated choice to become a member of the church. By not baptizing infants, the Baptist church was disrupting an important and long-held social tradition. Finally, the Baptist church took a long time to grow. Though founded in the 1600's, membership did not reach significant numbers until well into the 1800's. It is in part due to the secular nature of American politics that the Baptist movement was given the time and freedom it needed to develop a stable base and strong foundation.